Your Steam Community Hub is one of the many places your customers and fans are interacting, discussing, and sharing their experiences with your product. It may be tempting to jump in and participate in every conversation that is happening about your product. Instead, take a step back and listen. Hear what your customers are discussing and asking. Rather than spending a bunch of energy in replying to every thread, channel that energy and excitement into improving your product; fix the bug, create new content, etc.
In many cases, the presence of a developer commenting in discussions can derail the conversation or cause participants to be more timid in their responses. It is often more beneficial to let the community talk things through so that you can gather more data about the issue or hear what kind of solutions your customers come up with.
Here are a couple points that we've found to be useful to keep in mind when browsing discussions:
- Listen to your customers. Not just in the Steam Community, but everywhere people are talking about your product.
- Don't respond to everything. Crafting deliberate and thoughtful communication takes time and always comes with risks of reducing future options or spurring further argument. Let your community answer each others' questions.
- Work on your product. If there are a bunch of common themes in the discussions about bugs or issues in your game or software, then you probably have a good idea of what would have the best pay-off to fix or improve. The best communication is to change your product, as it reaches all your customers and generates the best feedback.
- Don't argue with your fans. Some customers will try to engage developers in arguments. There's no way you can win.
- Let customers express their unhappiness. Don't censor; customers know when that's happening. Focus on your product rather than getting worked up over negative comments. Channel your energy into fixing the core issues and making customers happy in the product.
There are times where the productivity of a community is hindered by particular individuals or off-topic conversations. Use the guidelines below to appropriately decide whether to delete, lock or merge threads and when to ban users. Many of these guidelines have huge pay-off in terms of keeping your community clean and on track.
A number of moderation options are available within your Discussions. Mousing over a user post will reveal post-specific options, while the Moderator Tools
panel on the right side of the page contains broader options for thread management.
The following are some of the more commonly used options available to you and your moderators.
Members of the community can report posts to help you identify abuse or spam that is happening in your Steam Discussions. When you go into your Steam Discussions, on the right-hand side you will see a sub-forum listing for "Reported Posts". This section will show you all the posts that have been reported along with the report description entered by the user.
Once you take action on the post, or decide that the report is not valid, please make sure you resolve the report so other moderators and admins know the issue has been dealt with. When viewing a reported post, there is a link in the right-hand column to "Mark as Resolved".
You should only ever edit posts by customers if you are removing profanities, removing personal information, or fixing a broken link. Editing may be appropriate if the post has valid points and deleting the post is not desirable (see deleting guidelines below).
Deleting Threads or Posts
Deleting content sends a powerful message to users and should be reserved for highly offensive content or things like phishing attempts. It should only be done when something is clearly in violation of the Steam Community Rules And Guidelines
. Do not use the delete feature to hide negative reviews or criticisms of the game. Doing so will quickly turn your forum into a place to discuss moderator actions, instead of the game itself. Users have a right to express their discontent with a game or its features.
If there are multiple negative threads pertaining to the same issue, you are encouraged to merge them together.
Merging threads is useful for combining a number of discussions with the same topic into one thread. You may want to do this if there are a bunch of threads reporting the same bug or asking the same question, as it allows you then to reply to all those users at once, or simply foster a collaborative discussion among users that are having a similar experience. This tool is especially helpful for keeping your discussions organized without censoring users.
Locking threads should be treated with similar care as deleting. Users will continue to create new threads if they feel that a thread was prematurely locked. However, if a thread has turned into a non-constructive argument between users, or derailed entirely off topic, you should consider locking it. It is often helpful to post in a thread prior to locking it, explaining why it was locked.
Marking a Thread as Answered
This option will sticky the selected post to the top of the thread with a blue highlight indicating that you have marked that post as an answer to original poster's topic. It's is a great option if you find a particularly helpful or relevant post within one of your Discussion threads that should be officially surfaced.
This option is also available to the thread's creator, provided that the thread has not been locked. Developers can overwrite previously answered threads, but unless the post is misleading or false, it's generally a good idea not to overwrite.
Warnings, Bans & Messaging
If a user is posting or behaving in a manner that detrimental to your community, several options are available to moderators. These are available via the dropdown menu next to the player name contained in posts and threads.
PMs are the most basic tool for communicating with users in your Discussion hub. It is also a great tool for users who may be doing something improperly, but you don't want the message to carry the negative context of a ban or warning. An example would be a user posting a bug report outside of your official bug report section.
Warnings are another great first step when you want to communicate directly to a user that their behavior is against the rules. Several pre-written warning reasons can be selected when issuing one. The pre-written messages are translated into whatever language the user has Steam set to. You also have the ability to write a custom warning reason, but these of course will not support translations.
We feel that in most cases, giving users the benefit of the doubt and issuing a warning is the correct first response to users breaking the Steam Community Rules And Guidelines
Bans are the last resort for behavior in violation of the Steam Community Rules And Guidelines
. Bans should be temporary in order to serve as a reminder of the discussion rules. Permanent bans should not be issued in most cases.
If a user has repeatedly violated guidelines, it may be appropriate to permanently ban them from your forum. If you do need to ban a user, please leave a clear, concise ban reason when doing so. This ban reason is visible to the user as well as other moderators.
Below are some suggested reasons to leave for banning a user:
- Bumping Threads
- Bypassing the "Word" Filter
- Re-posting Closed / Moved / Deleted Thread or Post
- Repeatedly Posting in Incorrect Forum
- "Backseat" Forum Moderation
- Abusing the post reporting system
- Inappropriate Language
- Insulted Other Member(s)
- Pointless / Spam Post
- Posting Spoilers
- Trolling / Flamebaiting
- Offensive Post
- Promoting Illegal Activity / Violence / Self-harm / etc.
- Admitting / Advocating Software Piracy
- Ban Evasion
- Promoting Cheats / Exploits
- Spammed Advertisements
Moderating Screenshots, Videos, and Workshop Items
As an admin or moderator with proper permissions, you are able to ban shared files or mark them as incompatible. For details on granting permissions to moderators or internal developers, please see Adding Community Moderators
Below are some suggestions on when to ban versus mark as incompatible.
Banning content should be reserved for items that violate the Steam Subscriber Agreement, such as: offensive content (e.g. racism), pornography (e.g. pornographic sprays/decals in Counter-Strike), stolen Workshop items, hacked skins/textures to make characters nude, etc. Users will receive an email that their item has been banned and that it is only visible to them.
Marking as Incompatible
You can mark things as incompatible to hide them from Game Hubs. When in doubt, use this option instead of banning. Usually this is content that is lewd (e.g. characters posed in inappropriate positions) or "off-topic" and unrelated to the game. Users will not be notified of this action, unless it is a Workshop item.
Clear reports on items that do not fall into the categories above. This will get the item off the list once the search caches get refreshed.
Users that have launched and played or used your product on Steam can write reviews and indicate whether they recommend your product to others. These reviews may then appear on your product's store page and in the Steam Community, depending on how many other users find that review helpful. You can learn more by reading the User Reviews
There may be some cases where reviews contain inappropriate material, such as scams, harassment, or are otherwise abusive. They are also occasionally reviews that are entirely off-topic and don't relate to your product at all. For these two cases, we have provided tools for flagging reviews for further review.
Flagging should be reserved for clear-cut cases. When in doubt, just allow the users to down vote the review and use the report tool. In most cases, reviews that are off-topic won't be rated as helpful by customers and thus will not appear to many users.
To flag a review:
- Click the "Recommended" or "Not Recommended" headline of a review to open up the detail view of that review.
- You will find a orange section in the right-hand column for "moderator controls" where you will see a drop-down for flagging the review.
- Select "Abusive" if the review contains a scam, harassment, or is otherwise abusive to Steam users.
- Select "Off-Topic" only if the review doesn't relate to your product or the service you are providing. An example is if the review talks about ice cream instead of your strategy game.
- With either choice, you will get a confirmation dialog. Then select "OK". Steam Community Moderators or Valve Employees will then review flagged reviews and delete or unflag as appropriate.
Responding to a review
There may be cases where the reviewer has incorrect information about your product, or may have encountered a bug that has since been resolved. To help keep the community on-track, we have provided tools for developers to respond directly to such reviews.
This response will be visible to anyone who can see the review and will be marked as an official response from the developer.
To reply directly to a review:
- Click the "Recommended" or "Not Recommended" headline of a review to open up the detail view of that review.
- You will find a orange section in the right-hand column for "moderator controls" where you will see a link for "Write Official Developer Response."
- Once you click the link, you will be provided with a text field to enter your response. Please remember to keep it clear and concise. Similar recommendations apply here as in the Overview for moderating best practices above.
- This response will then appear immediately below the related review and will be visible to anyone that can see the review.
Though it may be tempting, not every review needs to be responded to.
To enable members of your internal dev team or users in the community to help moderate content in your Steam Community, please see this guide on Adding Community Moderators
If you are unsure how to handle a specific post or user, you can post in the Steamworks Development Group
. There are other developers who have likely been through similar situations and can suggest some courses of action (or inaction).